All former Nigerian leaders are to have their vehicles changed this year, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal, has said.
He said that the Executive arm of government has allocated the sum of N400 million in the 2017 Budget to acquire the vehicles for the former leaders.
Those who will benefit from the initiative are former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon; Second Republic President, Shehu Shagari; former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, and Head of the defunct Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan.
Others are former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar; former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan.
Lawal disclosed the government’s plan to buy the vehicles for the former leaders when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Federal Character to defend 2017 Budget of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF).
Yesterday’s appearance of the SGF before the committee is seen as a move by Lawal to mend fences with the Senate after a protracted rift.
Mr. Babachir Lawal appeared before the Committee to defend his agency’s budget, following the insistence of members of the Committee to have him personally come and present it.
Lawal told the Senators that his absence was to enable him condole with families of those bereaved, particularly that of the Sports Minister, Mr. Solomon Dalung, who recently lost his first wife.
The meeting between the SGF and the Committee lasted over 45 minutes and was attended by the Chairman, Senator Tijjani Kaura (APC Zamfara North) and his Vice, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC Kaduna Central).
Lawal said that his office proposed a budget of N9.882 billion for this year.
Of the amount, N3.408 billion is for personnel costs; N3.781 billion for overheads. The budget shows an increase of N2 billion over the 2016 appropriation.
According to the SGF, the amount for overheads would be used for the activities and programmes of other offices headed by the Permanent Secretaries in the OSGF, as well as political office holders such as the Special Advisers, and Senior Special Assistants to the President.
Lawal further stated that his office budgeted N2.692 billion for capital projects for 2017.
Senator Hunkuyi said that the committee would investigate the poor release of funds to the OSGF.
Drawing the attention of the SGF to the non-payment of former presidents’ allowances, Sen. Hunkuyi demanded to know if same was captured in the 2017 Budget.
Responding, Lawal hinted that the allowances for the former presidents were covered in the 2017 Budget, though not openly budgeted for in the proposal.
He said that the sum of N400 million was proposed for the purchase of vehicles for them since they were all due for new vehicles usually procured every four years.